I WATCHED the president's speech last week and appreciated the upbeat content. Like most people I tuned in on my Sony TV set, or its moral equivalent. Since I had time to kill I examined the labels on my clothes.
My shirt was made in Malaysia, my sweater in China, my belt came from South Korea, my shoes from Hong Kong and my earmuffs from Sri Lanka.
I don't go out of my way to buy foreign goods, but despite all the pleas to buy American, it's very difficult these days to find anything in the stores that's made in the USA. What makes this more confusing is that our recession is now the world's recession, and the people in Sri Lanka are just as concerned about how President Bush is going to "jump-start" the American economy as we are.
Mr. Donking, foreman of the factory, came up to Tikka the morning after President Bush's State of the Union speech, which everyone in Sri Lanka watched on CNN, and said, "Tikka, we're going to have to pink-slip you. Macy's is closing down its earmuff department to satisfy its creditors."
"But why, Mr. Donking?"
"There is a recession in the United States, and until President Bush can lick the hard times the people of America cannot afford earmuffs."
Tikka responded, "No wonder Bush's popularity in Sri Lanka has sunk to a new low. I watched him on TV last night and, if you ask me, he doesn't give a damn about what happens to us. I'll tell you this, he's not going to get my support. I wouldn't be surprised if he loses the middle-class vote in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Laos."
"You can't vote in the United States," Mr. Donking reminded him.
"My cousin voted in the Chicago elections for 15 years and he had been dead for most of them. What's going to happen to us if we close down the factory?"
"We might go into the mail-order business selling Korean Martha Washington dessert plates and American flags made in Hong Kong."